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Marvel’s Eternals Deserves to be the Future of the MCU

Eternals, somehow, delivers the single best Justice League film ever seen.

Reader Rating0 Votes
A unique entry in an otherwise homogenised franchise
Great writing and directing
Every actor shoulders their role
Excessive exposition can get a little much
You don't get as much of every character as you may like

The post-Avengers: Endgame future for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) seemed uncertain at best. The immediate stable beyond Spider-Man: Far From Home seemed a little less familiar than most would have expected. And it certainly didn’t help that fan favourites such as Doctor Strange, Thor, and the Guardians of the Galaxy kept being pushed further down the slate. Even other already established names like Falcon and Bucky, Wanda and Vision, and Loki were all absent from the initial Phase 4 line-up.

Instead, centring the 2021 list of films was Eternals. A name of heavy significance to perhaps the most immersed of comic book fans, but definitely not one those who cut their teeth on the MCU would recognise. And from the looks of the trailer and all other promotional material it seemed like even longtime comic fans would have some catching up to do.

Eternals boldly plunges into the greater scape of the MCU, taking head on the eyebrow-raising question of where were these godlike characters when the world was, time and again, faced by many threats–most pointedly Thanos. While the simple reason, as seen in the trailer, is the somewhat obvious (and not great) “we weren’t supposed to meddle in human affairs” schtick, the movie goes on to embellish the causes and motivations of these character to seamlessly blend them into a very fleshed out universe.

This does result in a somewhat jarring amount of exposition, but at no point does anything ever feel unnecessary or out of place. After all, Eternals was taking on the gargantuan task of fitting into 13 years of established continuity, and even delivering something to the scale of Avengers without the cushioning of prior standalone films.

And it is here that the careful planning, writing, and directing of Chloe Zhao and her team truly shine. With a single entry (and a blockbuster debut for the captain of this film), Chloe Zhao achieves what a stream of DC movies have so astonishingly failed to do: competently introduce multiple characters with little to no prior features, while delivering an engaging, thematically-driven tale.

While exposition can sometimes be clunky, and certain characters are definitely favoured more than others (with good reason), the Eternals almost immediately differentiate themselves from the franchise-dominating Avengers while still making audience long for the inevitable team-up.

Eternals Review

Chloe Zhao’s directing and reliance on characters is on display with every one of the Eternals. Understanding that talent powerhouses need little in the way of screen time to allow their personalities to shine, Zhao’s usage of Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie is incredibly disciplined. And while fans would have certainly gotten a kick out of previously on-screen brothers in Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden and Kit Harington interacting, Zhao’s restraint allows for some fan service without getting excessive.

The true beneficiary of Zhao’s writing and directing is Gemma Chan. Every moment on screen as lead Sersi is reason enough to justify Chan’s unique status of playing a second character within the same franchise. While her previous foray in the MCU was the also fantastic Captain Marvel, Chan’s role as fellow Starforce corps member Minn-Erva was unfortunately rather diminished. However, any doubts one might have had of her potential in carrying a film, let alone a possible franchise, is put to rest with her turn in Eternals.

And also, Kumail Nanjiani’s biceps. Like… whoa!

Even Brian Tyree Henry, who may easily be the fan favourite of FX series Atlanta, is allowed to take on the surprising and rare position as both the brain and conscience of the team. Paper Boi ain’t ever gonna be the same to me.

Eternals makes it clear that it has very little concern with the pressures of the bigger franchise tentpoles and is more interested in conveying a human story which just happens to include literal gods.

Also, from one Marvel fan to others: go get the Earth X run by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger, John Paul Leon and Doug Braithwaite. It’ll only serve to enhance whatever wacky journey the Marvel Cinematic Universe has in store for us.

Eternals is now out in all theatres and deserves to be watched on the big screens!